Dealing with depression, anxiety, and other forms of psychological suffering is difficult. Diederik Wolsak joins Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D. to talk about his healing center and how the forgiveness process helps in the whole healing process. He is the founder and program director of Choose Again Attitudinal Healing Centre that helps people transform their life again, by learning to identify and release the psychological blocks that keep them from living life to the fullest. Diederik himself has been through the dark path of his life and through discovering his process of healing, he is now helping others heal through the painful patterns and return home with a renewed sense of purpose and vitality. Join him in this episode as he takes us deeper into it.
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The Art Of Healing Through The Forgiveness Process With Diederik Wolsak
Diederik Wolsak is the Founder and Program Director of the Choose Again Attitudinal Healing Centre. He is the lead facilitator of both the Vancouver and Costa Rica arms of this organization. He is an international workshop leader, public speaker and relationship counselor with years of experience in group facilitation. Diederik’s journey started in 1942 on the island of Java, Indonesia. He spent the first three years of his life in Japanese concentration camps. Many of his core beliefs were developed during that early, potentially traumatic phase. At age eight, he was sent to a foster home in Holland and by the time he rejoined his parents and brothers two years later, he was filled with self-hatred and fear of the world around him.
This self-hatred, fear and guilt translated into prolonged alcohol and drug abuse until finally, at age 50, he reached that point where he realized that there had to be a better way or there would be no point in continuing his life. While his self-hatred drove him to be a successful businessman and international athlete, it allowed him little joy. Following the fork in the road where something had to change, he entered upon a spiritual path of deep healing. This path eventually led him to a fulfilling career as a counselor in private practice. He is a masterful therapist. Every client recognizes immediately that they are being trained to become independent of their counselor, that they are worthy of respect and that they have their answers.
Diederik is there to assist in finding and removing all blocks to happiness and peace in a most gentle and loving way. Clients also sense that Diederik has been in many of the dark places they see themselves in. He has personal knowledge of deep depression and substance abuse. He has personal experience of what they are going through and has largely transformed his life. However, he will be the first to tell you, “I am a work in progress.”
Diederik, thank you so much for joining us here. It’s a pleasure. I’m excited. Can you tell us a little bit about, without going into the whole long story of your life, which so many people can see in your wonderful YouTube videos? Tell us a little bit about how you got into the work you do and what drives your passion for it?
There are so many ways of looking at it. The short version would be that for many years of my life, I was driven by self-hatred and self-loathing. There came a time when I turned around 50 when I said either there has to be a better way or I can finish this short journey around the sun and step out. I had a place on Vancouver to Whistler Highway where there was a very short stretch, where there was no barrier. If you went through there, then there will be a 2,000–foot drop and there’ll be no risk of a wheelchair. I decided to give it one shot.
A friend of mine had given us A Course In Miracles which years earlier I read one line in which was, “Sin is lack of love as darkness is lack of light.” I thought that’s an amazing statement and I totally agree but then the next line had, “The father, the holy spirit and the son,” then I said, “This is not for me.” I threw it away. Two years later, I got to that point where either I was going to finish it or something had to happen. I opened the Course again and this time, I did not see the offending language.
I saw the message and the message that I got from the Course was varied but consistent with all the other major universal, spiritual teachers that I was very familiar with. That is, “This world is a dream. You are the dreamer. Who you have never been affected by who you think you are, by what you think you’ve done or about what you think has been done to you.” In other words, it’s completely eliminated the possibility of being a victim. I’ve been a very faithful victim for a long time, starting with 3.5 years in concentration camps which was a good victim position to begin with, and then continued because I was getting evidence for myself, hatred wherever I went. It’s stunning how effective that idea is. Once I recognize that everything in my life has been chosen by the false self or by the loving self.[bctt tweet=”Sin is lack of love as darkness is lack of light. ” via=”no”]
There’s a dynamic that you alluded to which is so powerful which is If you hold a belief, your mind will show you the evidence to prove that belief.
That’s why I love the idea that whatever you have in your life, you have chosen. That’s why our organization is called Choose Again. What Choose Again does not address is that you cannot choose as long as you don’t transform your core beliefs. You have no free will. It’s the core beliefs that do the choosing for you. Once I recognize that I also recognized that these core beliefs were chosen by me in my case many years ago. I had always believed them and never questioned them. I had seen a few psychiatrists who told me I was a hopeless case and get used to it but then I realized, “No. That’s not true.”
I began to understand that there’s no such a thing as personality. I began to appreciate that there was no such thing as a character and that all this personality, character and who you think you are just inventions. To own that invention joyfully and say, “That a test through some power but also a test to the possibility or the potential to transform these.” That’s what I set out to do. I said, “The Course clearly has 365 lessons. My mouth is not too rusty. I can figure it out that’s a year program.” I thought I’d give it a year and if it doesn’t work, I can always find a spot to drive my car over the road.
I already knew within a week that my life was changed. It was dramatic how fast that went. After a month or so of doing this work by myself in wonderful solitude, somebody said, “There’s something different about you. Can I come and talk to you about what you’re doing?” I said, “Absolutely,” and then a few more people came. One person said, “Can I give you some money for this?” I said, “Yes, wonderful.” By the end of the year, I was a therapist, which I’ve never been. I don’t have any official credentials. It’s been an incredible journey which has brought experiences that I never could have imagined.
The one thing that pops in my mind to say, to clarify for people, is that when I say, “I’m experiencing only those things I’ve chosen,” it’s not to say that I chose to be in the camp or to have a tornado knocked down my house but my interpretation of what that means is what creates my experience of it.
You can. If you’re ready for it, you can go a step further and say, “Yes. I’m also responsible for everything at the deepest level because as Buddhism and a part of Hinduism teach is this is a dream and I’m the dreamer. I’m choosing this dream.” I have no problem taking on 100% responsibility. I invented the camp. I’m completely okay with that. To most people, that is insane. I tend not to go there but I’m very comfortable with that idea. What you said is valid because most people are not willing to take 100% responsibility for everything but to be responsible for the interpretation is an immensely freeing idea.
The critical part for me is I’m trying to help people come for therapy or they come with various issues to the journeys, dreams or to any kind of spiritual self-help thing is regardless of whether or not I created the camp. If I use your Six-Step Choose Again Process my experience gets better. My life gets better.
The beauty of the process is that I always take it back in the process called The Earliest Memory. The earliest memory maybe two months ago. It’s not genuinely the earliest memory but that may be all you’re capable of at this point, that you do your work at that level. I had clients who said they had memories from in utero and I thought that’s a little steep for me but then I had an experience where that became clear, too.
Things have happened to us what we’ve done with them is a demonstration of who we think we are and what we’ve constructed. The architecture of the self is completely self-made. I can undo that at the speed that I’m ready to do it at. That can take years, 2 weeks or 1 day. The time it takes to achieve a level of healing that brings joy in your life is however long you choose it to take. “How long do I want to be right? As long as I want to be right, that you should not have spoken to me like that, that my father should not have been drinking out or my mother should not have been depressed, then I’ll stay there. As soon as I say, ‘I don’t want to be right anymore. I’ve been wrong all my life. It is time to admit that I’m wrong.’ How do I know I’m wrong? I’m not happy.” It’s that simple.
“I’m in pain. If I’m in pain, I’m in error.” You started that out and within a year, you were a therapist. What does it progress to? What is the status of your life as a therapist or as an intensive center leader?
Looking back at it, it’s been a remarkable experience in that, by the end of the year, I had a full practice and then somebody came to me three years into it and said, “I have a very difficult adopted son who has all kinds of issues. He gets kicked out of school, gets into fights and into drugs. He’s just an all–around bad actor and I don’t know what to do with them but here is some money. Can you please take him away?” She wanted me to take him to Costa Rica and I was familiar with Costa Rica at that point already. I said, “I will but not one-on-one.” I asked a colleague of mine and we invited five other teenagers. The seven of us set out to spend two months in the jungle, seeing what healing could take place, not for the kids but also for ourselves.
It was an unbelievable experience of intense confrontation with the self, smaller self mutually, both between the so-called kids and ourselves. One thing that becomes so clear on our work quickly is that, “I’m doing this work for me. I’m not a nice guy. I’m not here to help you. I’m here to help myself and you bring me that healing.” That was so clearly demonstrated in the two months we spent with those kids. After that, the same person a year later said, “If you wanted to open a center in Costa Rica, I’ve sold a house and I’m willing to invest $50,000.” I wasn’t particularly concerned because we needed a lot more than $50,000 to open a center.
I said, “That’s wonderful.” Within a week, we had $250,000. People came from nowhere. Suddenly, one person as much as $100,000, several other $50,000 and a few $75,000. Before we know it, we had $250,000 and that wasn’t enough. I went to Costa Rica at age 63, started the center with my daughter and a team of volunteers worked our asses off, transformed the place, which was a complete disaster area. It’s a large garbage dump and transformed it into an unspeakably beautiful environment high up in the Hills, overlooking a lake, surrounded by rainforest. It’s where are we now do our residential org.
I remember you say something about the synchronicity there or coming home because that earlier time in your life you were up at about the same elevation with the lake.
I was born in Indonesia on the island of Java. After the Japanese had invaded Indonesia, my parents have fled into the mountains hoping to escape the Japanese and that place where I was born. It was 800 or 2,500 feet on a lake in the tropics. When I discovered this place 2,500 feet on the lake in the tropics, same smells, same sums, it was like us seven coming home.
How often are you there and what a schedule do you run of having whatever you call it? Intensives or retreats there?[bctt tweet=”Whatever you have in life, you have chosen. ” via=”no”]
I used to be there permanently with very frequent trips to Canada and the States and Europe for teaching a workshop but I was based there. Years ago, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, as well as a host of all the wonderful things and that could have stopped working seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day. I took off and went to Victoria. Stacey, my partner and I yield to cancer, but that all the issues came up as I mentioned to you. There’s a number of messages that this body has worn out and start treating it differently. The crazy thing is that’s still at the back of my mind if I can lick what I have right now, then I’ll be back to being 50 years old. “No, you’re 79 and behave yourself accordingly,” is the message I keep getting.
The center is there 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It has a phenomenal staff. Our staff is all ex–clients. They are people who have come through the program and who, through their dedication, to their healing, immediately recognized that the most efficient way to heal is to help others and to be involved in the healing of other people. The staff that was there. They come and go but pretty much permanent, have thousands of hours of training with virtually any kind of psychological model that you can bring to the table from schizophrenia to bipolar, to borderline, to chronic depression.
Mostly they’re to issues where they’re having a little bit of trouble like a relationship in marriage. I don’t know how to deal with my teenagers. I’ve lost my second job in two years. What can I do about that? Practical things that seem unsolvable, whereas people are told, “That’s who you are. That’s your personality.” For them to come and recognize, that’s not true. I can be anything and anyone I wish to be. People come for anywhere from a week to, the longest has been several years and that was a schizophrenic person who had nowhere else to go.
It was either she would come and stay with us for free or she’ll be locked up in an institution that we’d never see her again. There’s nothing in my mind. If I can help anyone avoid what I call the curse of pharmaceuticals, I will do that. Having said that, I quickly want to say that pharmaceuticals have a role to play. If I’m about to hang myself and you say, “Here’s a pill. It’ll make you feel better.” I will take that pill but not as a life sentence. I will take it in order to calm down my mind, to give me some space, breathing room and then to get to work and recognize in the long run, “I do not need medication.” They have a vital role.
Several questions are bubbling up for me. One of them is how do people find out about that center in Costa Rica and how do they get in touch with you where is most of your referral flow for that? Is that all coming through the Choose–Again.com website?
It comes partially through the website and mostly through the videos that we have on YouTube. People see those. We have a number that is extremely frequently watched and have a lot of information but 80% is the word of mouth. People that have been there and tell their friends or their friend notice. If you go there with your partner and all your friends know you’re in trouble but you come back holding hands and clearly being in love with the self and each other then that piques interest.
It’s word of mouth. We’ve always been bad at mainstream marketing. I have no idea how to do and it never appealed to me. There are people that are good at that but we are not. It’s funny we had a client a long time ago who wrote a little newsletter and one of the items was about me, How to Run the Most Successful Healing Center on the Planet and Not Make Money. That seems to be our specialty. We’ve never been driven by money.
The website is Choose-Again.com and one of the primary tools is your Six–Step Choose Again Forgiveness Process. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
It’s a tool that organically grew in the first year of my work. We had an older process that we used that we modified to arrive at this one. This one is simple and straightforward. The ego finds it almost unbearably difficult but it starts with the first step, which is to acknowledge that you’re upset, which means, “I’m not at peace.” For most of us, including me, that is only 23.58 hours a day. To acknowledge is difficult. We’re not in the habit. We’re saying, “It’s not a big deal. She always talks like that. It’s going to rain today. Why wouldn’t it?” We ignore upsets at our peril because an upset has an unbelievably healing purpose. To recognize that I’m upset is the first step.
The second step is probably the most radical of the process and that says, “It’s about me. It’s not about my mom, my dad, my siblings, my teacher or the concentration camps. It’s just about me 100% unquestionably.” Most people say, “Interesting but,” and then they come up with all the exceptions but you cannot make an exception. This is one step that is absolute. If you’re not going to take it, that’s perfectly fine but if I’m not willing to take it then I rejoin the ranks.
You don’t need to go in the other four.
You stay in your wonderful victim position. There you are. It’s your fault. If you don’t want to do that, then step two is a breakthrough. The next step is, “To recognize what I’m feeling at the moment.” For me, that was very difficult because I had only two feelings. That was rage and numb partially because I drank and did a lot of drugs in those days but also because I didn’t allow myself to feel and that goes right back to the drugs.
I designed a feeling sheet, which has some 64 feelings on it, which we use and I used to use religiously until I learned how to feel. That took me a little while and to maybe not surprised but I’ve recognized that a lot of people are not particularly aware of their feelings. Why is that important? Because the feeling is chosen by a belief. Each belief that I have chooses feelings. It could be that one belief chooses different feelings and when you go through the process, you come out with that belief. It could also be that there are several beliefs in one upset.
The first thing you do then is to say, “What am I feeling? What is the strongest feeling right now? Is that a familiar feeling?” The answer is yes because I don’t make new feelings. Any feeling I have now is a replay of what I felt from the age of 0 to 8. It’s a familiar feeling, then I say, “Take that feeling and allow it to walk you back to when you were a little boy or a little girl. What was happening? Somebody did or said something around you and you at that moment chose this feeling. You made up something about yourself. What do you think that was?”
Almost without fail, I would say 95% of the time, people will go to an early memory and immediately recognize what it was. Now I know the belief that chose that feeling is you name it. “I’m not good enough,” is an incredibly common one for everyone on the planet. “I’m not loved. I don’t belong. I have no right to be here. Whatever I do, I will never be successful. It will never be enough.” Those are pretty classic core beliefs that we walk around with.
Forgiveness is not so much of a given for what I’ve done or what anybody else has done. It is forgiveness for that belief. “I forgive myself for believing this because it’s not true.” The idea does forgiveness, It’s not the ego I. It is the third part of the mind. The third part of the mind is the loving self, that has never been touched, never been affected, hasn’t changed and is simply waiting for me to welcome it back again. That is the part that does the forgiveness.
The decision-maker which is the second part of the mind is the one that has to choose to do that. The first part of the mind is the ego which is the set of beliefs, the construction we call the ego or we call Timothy. The forgiveness, God forgive me for believing that I’m not good enough. “That is not true,” says the loving self. “You are good enough. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you’ve done. You are good enough, whether you’re a dishwasher or the president of the United States, you are good enough. You have nothing to prove.”
When people hear that their worth is intrinsic, first of all, they reject it out of hand and then I say, “Close your eyes for a minute. How would it feel if that was true? How would it feel if the value you have is an intrinsic value which cannot improve, you cannot decrease it?” Absolutely without fail, their fat face lights up and say, “That would be incredible. That’s how you’re going to live.” The last step is the last forgiveness. Second forgiveness is to forgive me for forgetting that who I have never been touched, has never been affected, no matter what happened, no matter how deeply traumatic society calls my early youth, that can have no effect on me unless I chose it and the I that chose that effect is the I were transforming. That’s the process.
That whole ability to identify the belief system that I chose, that I download and then question it and see the false nature of it is key to a whole series of works like this. Yours is this wonderful, simple process. It’s so similar to a host of others. It’s a delight to find yet another person who’s teaching it from a slightly different perspective, the same basic dynamic. This is how we function as human beings. We’re creating our experience of life and we’re doing it every time we know we experience tension or negative emotion. We could use it as the wake–up call that says, “Tim, your thoughts are off the mark. Choose again.”
Maybe not turning your thoughts off the market. Your thoughts are telling you something about you that’s not true.
The belief is false.
You’re mistaken. Never ever make yourself wrong. If I’m not willing to do a process, I’m not willing to do a process right now. That will not affect who I am either. “I won’t feel very good for a while.” It has happened. Believe it or not. Even after 25 years of doing this, that I still have moments where I don’t want to process it. I want to be right. I hear that voice and I hear myself laughing at the same time but there’s such a block. There’s such an addiction.
There’s a wonderful video available with you and Gabor Maté. He says, “I was over at Diederik’s place and I learned this stuff then my wife didn’t pick me up from an airport and I spent three days pouting.” It’s a choice and it’s okay. What we often tell people is, “Choose to be gentle with yourself as soon as you can, even in those times where you’re not willing to pick up a tool and resolve the issue at a fundamental level. Let yourself be aware that you’re okay even when you’re not feeling great.”
There is a very distinct but fine line between being gentle and being indulgent. Indulgent means, “I’m going to sit in this. I deserve to feel this. I have a right to feel this.” Gentle means, “I’m not somehow, for some reason, prepared to heal this right now. That’s okay. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll do it five minutes from now. I’ll do it next week but I’m going to get around to it. Right now, I’m not willing. That’s okay. Don’t justify it. Don’t say I have a reason to feel this.” That is the difference. I never justify how I feel, but sometimes I’m not immediately jumping into a process.
If I argue for my limitations, they are mine.
That can be very convincing.
I tend to believe it because it comes from a good source, me, I think I know. That whole idea of being gentle with myself, Sylvia Boorstein, a Jewish Buddhist grandmotherly type would put her hand over heart-space whenever she’s upset and talk to herself gently and say, “Sylvia, sweetheart, you’re in pain. Take a few deep breaths. Calm down. We’ll look at what’s going on and then we’ll decide what to do.” If I try to act from that pain state, even when I’m deciding I’m right and I don’t want to do this, then I can beat myself up good.
I’ll get more evidence. Remember Einstein’s question, “Is this a benevolent universe?” The answer is yes but it’s been benevolent in a way that people don’t recognize it’s benevolent. From my point of view is it keeps sending me the same pain until I recognize this is not pain. This is an offering a feeling. I need to change my mind about what is being offered here. It’s I’m not suffering. Suffering is my interpretation and once I get that, then I can say, “Who’s the I interpreting that I have to transform?” Otherwise, I got the same interpretation.[bctt tweet=”The architecture of oneself is completely self-made. ” via=”no”]
One of my favorite teachers is Dr. Michael Reiss and he’s probably not the first one to say it but he talks about it this way, “The purpose of pain is to make my ears grow so I can listen to what I need to change.” Guy Finley will say that, “The lessons I need to learn in life, right into my life on the back of the events I don’t want. If I reject the event, I lose the lesson.”
They’ll keep coming. That’s the beauty. They’re all replays of something that happened many years ago. It’s the same thing over and over, until you say, “I get it. I’ve got to deal with this.” The healing is almost immediate. Often, not permanent. Often the relief is temporary because the belief is powerful. We often compare it to if you’re in Costa Rica and on our property, it’s 90% rainforest, 10% is where the buildings are and there’s a bit of area of grass but it’s mostly rainforest. If you want to make a path in the rainforest, you need a strong arm, a very sharp machete and you can make a path. If you come back a week later, that path has gone. You won’t find it.
It’s the same with his work, the ego’s neuropathways are like a twelve–lane highway that every thought automatically runs on and the new pathway that you and I are making together is that little path in the rainforest. If I’m committed to my healing, I will turn that little path in the rainforest into a 12–lane highway. I will neglect the ego’s neuropathways, they will now turn into the rainforest. After a while of doing this work, you will notice and I’ve noticed that I’m sure you have to. I suddenly reacted lovingly where before I would have been irritated or annoyed. This time I looked at it in love and had a wonderful time. That’s the new highway.
There are also times where I did a lot of work, I got pretty good at being calm and then I get triggered. If I’m honest and I look at it, I went back to camp and slept for a couple of weeks and the forest overgrew and the ego pathway has opened up again.
I’m glad you said that because this is not a fix. People expect and we’re so living in a society of fixes. Give me a pill, line of cocaine, joint, a glass of wine and everything is fine. That’s what we’re used to. We’re not used to saying, “This will take a while.” We’re going to make progress. That’s inevitable. There’s a wonderful line in A Course In Miracle that says, “Retrogression is temporary.” You do have setbacks. I do but it’s always temporary. Not only that but the level of comfort which before was at a minus 40, the comfort zone where I thought I should live over time has been raised to a plus 5. It never goes down to minus 40 anymore. It now goes from a 9 or a 10 down to a 5 and say, “Work to be done.” The fluctuation gets narrower.
I think about the idea of muscle memory and we tell people, “When you started to throw a ball, you weren’t very good at it but if you practice, eventually your body gets to have muscle memory.” I finished talking to an integrative psychiatrist who talks about how ridiculous it is that we teach children at 3, 4 and 5 years old to wash their face and hands, brush their teeth and take a bath on a regular basis. We don’t teach them mental and emotional hygiene. There are these specific tools we can use and we should be using them every day to clean up the system or in your analogy, to clear more of the path in the rainforest. If we do that, we get the results. If we don’t, we get the other results, we get the auto process.
That’s because we’re so used to behavior modification. We think if we only behave well, we’re okay but that puts enormous strain on the inner system that we’re behaving well and goes against who I think I am and that becomes impossible. For a little 3– or 4-year-old that already hates himself to take care of his body by washing his hands, washing his face, taking showers is an effort. If we taught that same little 3.5 and 4-year–old who they are in truth, done taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and washing your face is automatic because it’s a loving thing to do but in our society and our way of mainstream therapy has reversed cause and effect. To look at the behavior and think you can change the behavior and thereby get a different result is from my experience is just absolutely insane. How many people buy gym memberships in the first week of January and how many are still going two weeks later? You’re going against your core beliefs. You can only do that for a while then it becomes unbearable.
Rewriting those core beliefs dismantling the negative ones. One of the things I like about your Choose Again Six–Step Forgiveness Process is that contrary to what a lot of people think that the old long-term therapy was the psychodynamic, psychoanalytic rather than going back and digging through my childhood, what I’m doing is I’m living my life now. When something comes up and I notice I’m upset, I use the process. If that process takes me back to two weeks ago and a core belief I downloaded back, then I go there. If it takes me to twenty years ago, I go there. I go to whatever it is. That’s up in my mind at the moment that’s got that energetic resonance with the false belief that’s driving this and it’s so practical that it stays right at what’s happening with me right now.
I love our mutual understanding of our work. The additional beauty is that clients immediately know that the message they got from me and from everyone within the organization is, “You don’t need me. I’m only here to tell you there is a door. I’m here to show you how I opened the door and that’s it. You’re learning everything you need to learn.” One of the reasons for writing my book is because I recognize that 1,000 people can come to the center in a year but another one million will never go anywhere because they don’t have the funds, availability and can’t leave their family or the job. For them, this process is doable by themselves. That’s how I designed it.
You reminded me of your book. I thought, “What kind of an interview am I?” I read the book, have it on Kindle and have all kinds of things highlighted. I thought, “When we do this, I have to ask them about this story or that story.” I got excited having you here that I forgot all about that. It is a wonderful book. I highly recommend it. What year did that get published?
There’s a book that I read every day and I make notes on it, it’s 2018.
The title of the book is Choose Again: Six Steps to Freedom. We have the idea that you purported. That’s what I love so much about this. A lot of my favorite teachers have put so much stuff out there on the internet for free. “Here are the steps and the tools.” That’s what you’ve done with this book. It’s a beautiful representation of, “First, here’s the six–step process, and then here’s the chapter for each of the steps. Here are some stories. Here are some actual descriptions of how people have used this in their lives,” how you’ve used it in your life. I highly recommend the book. It’s delightful.
Did you have some questions? You said you had something.
I was going to have Diederik tell us about this story or that story. One of them is this elderly client that you saw many years ago. It’s from page 111 in the book. He was on twelve medications and it quickly became apparent. We’re not going to be able to access any true feelings when he was on all of those because it was like a dark blanket of stuff on him. That’s one of the things that I’m very glad you said it the way you did. Medications may have a purpose, like a cast for a broken arm but if I leave that cast on there too long, it’s not helping anymore. The arm’s going to atrophy and that’s the thing that happens so often.
There’s a gentleman who began the Same Here Global Movement, SameHereGlobal.org. He has a story like that, where he had a mental and emotional collapse. They tried to look for physical problems. There weren’t any and the first time he went to a doctor, he left with five medications. Several years later, he’d been through every medication they have. I think they said over 50 medications. It wasn’t until he ran into a therapist who told him the kinds of things that you would tell him, “There’s more to this than taking pills. Why don’t you take a breath? Why don’t you look inside a little bit?” His life opened up again.
The challenge is that people, most of the time, do feel better on medication. What they’ll never achieve, would never reach or where they’ll never land is in the state of true joy on medication. It’s always described as coping. “I’m managing well. I’m managing my anger and fear.” I don’t want to manage anger or fear. I want to look at the I that’s afraid and that gets angry. I want to transform that I. “I used to be addicted to anger. I was angry all the time.”
I was sharing with my partner when I was eight when I was sent to a foster home in Holland. Within a day, I was physically fighting the entire school. They would surround me at recess and I was this little boy of eight years old, fighting with every single person who would come within 10 feet of me. That was my self–hatred attracting immediate evidence. Fast forward forty years later, I’m in the army. On the first day in the army in the barracks, I had 200 people after me. It’s unbelievable. I’ve never in my experience with others see a similar overwhelming attraction of self-hatred. People ask me, “How did they even know you?” I don’t know how they knew me but they knew me.[bctt tweet=”The most efficient way to heal is to help others, to be involved in the healing of other people. ” via=”no”]
It’s very useful for me because we’re reading this in a slightly different format. When you’re saying that, “I’m going to see the evidence that helps prove the false belief or the negative belief that I hold about myself.” That slight twist on the same dynamic that we talk about in some of our other work that I have the infinite capacity to choose the focus of my conscious awareness in each moment. It’s that focus of conscious awareness in each moment that creates what I experience, my experience of life. Along comes, Diederik and he says, “On top of that if I’m holding a negative belief, I am going to see the evidence that proves me right.”
Over and over.
Sometimes in mystical ways, like you said, “How do all these people know that I’m such a hateful person?”
It’s mind–blowing. It’s so interesting how it works now. Part of my story is not only was I have a borderline personality but I also had a fair degree of autism. In school, I was kicked out of every class within five minutes. I was sent to three different schools and my parents didn’t know what to do with me scholastically. If I look back at it, I never knew why I was kicked out. I blurted out something. I didn’t know what it was. I’ll tell you one little story. I’m not sure whether it’s in the book or not but it’s priceless.
Years ago, I was doing deep meditation. In that meditation, I had a loving memory and I couldn’t place the details of the memory but it was an experience of acceptance. It was extraordinarily rare for me for the first many years of my life. I went back into meditation. I was in grade eight and a German class. My teacher who was a brilliant teacher, fluent German said something and I didn’t hear him. He said something again and I didn’t hear him then I felt this hand on my left shoulder and he says, “Das ist genug Elise,” which is German for, “That’s enough Elise.” What was happening? I was whistling Für Elise in class without knowing it because I was autistic. Every other teacher kicked me out. He accepted it and welcome it. He does defuse it with love and acceptance. It’s rare that we have that.
There’s a lovely story, I forget the name of the woman but she’s talking about a very similar thing. She was in class and struggling to get things right to be a good student. The teacher decides to have a lesson on prepositions. She says, “Here’s the box. What’s your relationship to the box?” The student is thinking, “How can I be related to a box?” I’m related to my mother. Every question the teacher asked, the student was answering from this very literal interpretation. The story is beautiful. If you can’t, as the teacher understand there’s a disconnect in trying to reach the connection, then you throw the student out, you ridicule him or her, or you will assume that they have a negative intention.
That’s exactly what happened. I’m the only person that I know was down at grade eight three times. They failed me twice and the third time they failed me, finally, my mother took my side which never happened. It was always, “The teachers are right. I don’t want to hear about it.” This time, she went to the school director and went over my grades. The principal said, “Yes, his grades are passing, but we don’t like him.”
What’s an aspect of either the work you’re doing or projects that you’re starting that I haven’t even asked you about yet that we should include here before we wrap up?
What we can include is that we teach workshops in the South of France every September. In September 2021, we have three workshops in a wonderful place. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Rennes-le-Château. It became famous through the Da Vinci Code. That’s where it started. A beautiful Medieval town on the hill and we’re right below at the foot of the hill. We do three one–week workshops there in September 2021, 2 in English and 1 in Dutch because I was Dutch and I still try to speak it even though people laugh when I speak it. Those are fun to go to. They’re incredibly intense and they’re a great opportunity for people to see a part of the world that they may not be familiar with, particularly with the COVID lockup. My ego is quite eager to have a different experience from being in my office. I’m looking forward to going.
Is there information about that on the Choose-Again.com website?
It took a while to get some clarity on whether it’s going to be done in 2021, but I think all the signals are on the green. Travel is opening up so we’ve decided to go ahead and do it.
The place in Costa Rica is open.
We’re already receiving clients. There’s something about it. Keep in mind that you’re surrounded by rainforests. If you haven’t been to the rainforest, that is an experience that cannot be described. There’s a life force. Everything is alive in the forest. It’s never quiet. I have fairly severe tinnitus and if you have tinnitus, then you know what it sounds like because that’s what the rainforest sounds at night. It’s a constant sound but I’ve had people that sit on the porch in the morning after arriving the evening before and say, “This is all I need. I’m beginning to heal already.” It’s a primal healing environment.
When we isolate ourselves from nature as much as we do, it creates problems we’re not even aware of so that’s a wonderful thing. There was another thought that was in my head. Let’s see if it’ll come back.
Short-term memory is overrated.
If there’s a counselor or a therapist, do you have a special program for that? Do you just invite those people to go to Costa Rica or your other workshops? Do you hold workshops out in British Columbia where you are in Victoria?
We do and we will again now we’re opening up again. We teach workshops in the States, Canada, Europe and England, anywhere people will want. If somebody in LA says, “I have 14 or 15 people who would like one of you to come and teach your workshop,” we’ll come. From my point of view and it’s not in our financial interest, but I wanted to make clear that this work is designed to be done by yourself.
In the beginning, everybody needs help. Everybody needs a teacher. There’s no question about it. Even though we all know the teachers within but most people don’t know that. To learn that the teacher is within is what we’re about. After that, we step back, you know the work. Now I take very few new clients but if I got a new client, the first thing I say, “Have you read the book? If not read the book first, because then we’re halfway there.” If I started with you brand–new and I have to teach you, it’s going to cost you 100 times what the book costs in terms of finances.
Keep your money in your pocket. Do your work. Come to us for fine–tuning. Come to us when you’re stuck or you’re in a situation suddenly where you say, “I can’t do this. I’m not ready for this.” We’re ready for you. We’re here. Most of the time you can handle these things. One of the things we always start with or I always start with this is telling your client, “There’s nothing wrong with you.” Usually, they get upset and they’ll say, “Haven’t read my file?” I say, “No, I don’t read files. There’s nothing wrong with you.”
There’s another aspect of the book and maybe we can talk a little bit more for this but I wanted to mention that there’s a part where you talk in the book that you sit and listen to people and sometimes, they’re telling these horrible stories. You’re calm and they say, “What’s wrong with you? Aren’t you hearing this horrible thing that happened to me?” You say, “Yes, I hear it but I’m not as interested in that as I am interested in your true self, your true loving nature. If you start telling me about that, I might be in tears in a minute.”[bctt tweet=”You can be anything and anyone you wish to be. ” via=”no”]
Love still brings me to tears. There’s no question. Stories don’t affect me anymore. My biggest challenge in healing was in the area of anger. Anger used to scare the living shit out of me and at times, doesn’t affect me anymore. I now know that if I am angry, which happens once every ten years, if it’s old guilt, I’m projecting on you and blaming you for something that I did. If somebody else is doing the same thing, it’s a cry for love and I look at it with love. I’m not impressed.
Thank you so much for agreeing to this. It’s delightful to meet you and maybe we’ll see you sometime in either France or Costa Rica.
That will be wonderful.
Your book is one that I will have in a rotation that I’ll probably read every year. I have to encourage people to go to your YouTube videos. You’re very generous with those and with your time. I thank you for being so generous with your time with us.
I want to thank you for the kindred spirit and the shared commitment to our healing. It was a pleasure.
Thank you. Blessings.
- Choose Again Attitudinal Healing Centre
- YouTube – Choose Again
- A Course In Miracles
- Six-Step Choose Again Process
- Gabor Maté – Who do you THINK you are? – Dr. Gabor Maté with Diederik Wolsak and Sat Dharam Kaur ND on YouTube
- Kindle – Choose Again: Six Steps to Freedom
- Choose Again: Six Steps to Freedom
About Diederik Wolsak
Diederik is the founder and program director of the Choose Again Attitudinal Healing Centre. He is the lead facilitator of both the Vancouver and Costa Rica arms of the organization. He is an international workshop leader, public speaker, and relationship counselor with years of experience in group facilitation.
Diederik’s journey started in 1942 on the island of Java, Indonesia. He spent the first three years of his life in Japanese concentration camps. Many of his core beliefs were developed during that early, potentially traumatic phase. At age 8 he was sent to a foster home in Holland and by the time he rejoined his parents and brothers two years later he was filled with self-hatred and fear of the world around him. This self-hatred, fear, and guilt translated into prolonged alcohol and drug abuse till finally at age 50 he reached that point where he realized that there had to be a better way or there would be no point in continuing. While his self-hatred drove him to be a successful businessman and international athlete, it allowed him little joy.
Following the fork in the road where something had to change, Diederik entered upon a spiritual path of deep healing. This path eventually led to a fulfilling career as a counselor in private practice. He is a masterful therapist. Every client recognizes immediately that they are being trained to become independent of their counselor, that they are worthy of respect, and that they have their own answers. Diederik is there to assist in finding and removing all blocks to happiness and peace in a most gentle and loving way. Clients also sense that Diederik has been in many of the dark places they see in themselves; he has personal knowledge of deep depression and substance abuse. He has personal experience of what they are going through and has largely transformed his life. However, he will be the first to tell you: “I am a work in progress.
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